Dueling TV ads attacking Congressional District 8 opponents Ron Barber and Jesse Kelly have been put up by the Republican and Democratic national congressional committees.
Both committees produced 30-second TV spots to boost their party's candidate's chances in the June 12 special election to complete the term of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The money spent by the national parties - the Democrats bought $150,000 in ad time while the Republicans bought $300,000 in ad time - is the latest evidence of the national importance of this race.
The winner will carry incumbent status into the November election in the newly-drawn Congressional District 2.
"A rubber stamp"
The Republican National Congressional Committee's ad calls Barber "a rubber stamp" for failed policies that have hurt Arizonans, renewing efforts to link Barber to supporting health-care reform, which includes $500 billion in future spending cuts to Medicare aimed at slowing spending increases for the program over 10 years.
"Positions on the issues matter," the narrator says as photos of President Obama and and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., D-Calif., appear on screen. "We can't send Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi a rubber stamp."
The Arizona Republican Party already spent nearly $112,000 on phone calls and mailers painting Barber as being in favor of Medicare cuts based on the fact "he worked to pass the bill" his former boss, Rep. Giffords, supported.
Barber has vowed to fight cuts to Medicare and reminded people he wasn't in office to vote on the bill. He says the Affordable Care Act was "far from perfect," and parts of it need to be revised.
The GOP attacks are designed to draw attention away from Kelly's flawed platform, said Jessica Schultz, Barber's spokeswoman.
"Ron Barber is an independent-minded leader who will never be a rubber stamp for anyone," Schultz said in an email statement.
But the GOP isn't backing down from making the link.
"Ron Barber supported ObamaCare and refuses to repeal it, which is the only way to stop Obama and Pelosi's cuts to Medicare," said Daniel Scarpinato, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"Is Kelly listening?"
The anti-Kelly ad put up by the Democratic National Congressional Committee once again brings up comments Kelly made in his campaign for the 2010 Congressional District 8 election, which he lost to Giffords.
The narrator asks if Kelly was "listening to you" when he said in 2009 that he would work to eliminate Medicare over time, referring to a 2009 statement Kelly made, in which he said he would get rid of the program if people could be responsible for their own health care.
The narrator asks the same question about Kelly's 2009 remark that he wants to eliminate Social Security, and his 2010 statement he would like to cut taxes in half for millionaires.
"Is Jesse Kelly listening to you?" the narrator says as the ad ends. "Just listen to Jesse Kelly."
Kelly supports "preserving, protecting and strengthening Social Security and Medicare" said his spokesman, John Ellinwood, in an email response. Kelly does not advocate for privatizing, eliminating or phasing out Social Security or Medicare, his campaign website says, nor will he agree to fix Social Security by raising the retirement age.
Ellinwood said earlier this month that Kelly wants to protect benefits earned by seniors while allowing younger workers the option of placing a portion of the account in a personal account.
Kelly has said he's committed to fulfilling promises to seniors. The only way to meet these obligations is to dramatically grow the economy, Ellinwood said. Kelly strongly advocates for doing that through the cultivation of domestic energy resources such as oil, natural gas, coal and uranium.
Kelly won't be able to distance himself from his past comments, no matter how hard he tries, said Jesse Ferguson, national press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He will be held accountable for his "out of touch views," Ferguson said.
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Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or email@example.com